Acknowledge Is Power
April 3, 2012
Sitting here on a Sunday morning, the 1st of April, I'm shaking my head as radio does what it's come to do best: miss opportunities.
Two days ago the #1 news story in North America was the Mega Millions. It was everywhere. You couldn't go anywhere without it literally puking all over you. And yet ... stations missed it.
There wil,l of course, be, "Well, we wanted to give our listeners a break from the hysteria." This isn't SARS or Katrina or Virginia Tech. This was a country going nuts over the prospect of winning half a BILLION dollars.
We're just so damn relevant.
And today Google is teaming up with NASCAR to debut driver-less race cars, while to the north, West Jet is introducing Kiddy Kargo, which will be child-free cabins with kids shipped below.
It's really hard to argue for the relevance of the medium when we miss so much stuff. Good opps. Happy opps. Sad opps. Topical opps. We miss them all.
To use a baseball metaphor, we're standing at the plate and striking out without taking the bat off our shoulder. We're just watching pitches sail past. Granted, there are still some players on the team that will eye a good pitch and park it DEEP in the leftfield bleachers. Like KDWB in Minneapolis with the paralyzed hockey player, or Hot in Ottawa with creating a pool of listeners to split the pot should any of their 50 Mega Millions tickets "hit," or 95.7 Jamz in Birmingham, which is doing a remote right now at a new client that tattoos children.
Please note the ratings on these stations. All three are monstrously successful. Huh.
I've become big on the theory of "acknowledgement," which dictates that every Hallmark Holiday, concert, big news story and topical pop culture event needs to be acknowledged.
Do we need to go and create a huge event or morning show broadcast for Earth Day? No. But you should acknowledge it.
I'm big on Googlizing. Google appears to be on its way to maybe perhaps being successful and they don't seem to have an issue with changing up their logo for very little reason. One of the C company web guys told me, and I quote, "It seems like to be a lot of work for very little payoff." Seriously? Taking a hockey puck and sticking it in the "0" of your dial position to maybe show the audience that you're aware that the local team is in the Stanley Cup is a lot of effort?
If not Googlizing, then a Facebook topic is the absolute minimum of effort to acknowledge that April 25th is Administrative Professionals Day. And we know that in PPM, at-work listening KILLS. So to miss the easiest chance to market to the nesters in their cubes qualifies you for an exciting career in fast food junior management.
Go on Facebook, and instead of some greeting card kind of "shout," ask something that invites engagement. "So, what is the STUPIDEST memo your boss ever asked you to type up?" or, "C'mon, spill the beans: how many people are hooking up at your work?"
Acknowledging doesn't need to be anything arduous ... it just requires that you find a way to let your listeners know that you actually live in the same town and aren't in some separate but parallel universe.
Case in point, Portland, Oregon. Ever notice that there are a lot of serial killers in that region of the country? I don't think it's entirely unrelated to the fact that it rains nine months of the year. And not stormy rain; drizzly, foggy, depressing, wrist-slitting rain.
A few years ago I was there for Labor Day Weekend. This is an almost symbolic "last weekend" for Oregonians and it's a bacchanalia of frenzied outdoor activity. Whatever you do, you do it outside. Kite flying, tennis, golf, dog walking, car washing, house painting, yard mowing, rollerblading. You're outside.
I listened to a station that could have been on Mars. Nice, tight eight-second breaks that in no way shape or form referred to what was happening in Portland ON THAT DAY.
It's not rocket science. Skype in some breaks from jocks who are out in the community. Pre-record (stage) breaks that you can log into the system. Maybe have the morning show create a video of their Summer Bucket List that they need to accomplish before Tuesday. Get some stuff going on FB about where people are hanging out.
Most of the stations I consult, in addition to having templates for Googlizing for all the Hallmark holidays, have imaging for each of these. Earth Day? "At 99.7 Now-FM we hug trees. We admit it. We also got root rot, but that's a whole other story. Happy Earth Day from the Bay Area's new home for Hits, 99.7 Now-FM." Bing. They acknowledged Earth Day.
With so many radio stations seemingly being programmed and voiced by people 1,000 miles away who can't name one movie theater or highway or hot weather girl in your town, sounding local and relevant will always win. And it just takes a nod, an ode, an acknowledgement.
Paige Nienaber is VP/Fun 'N Games for CPR and promotionally consults and insults over 100 radio stations across the US, Canada, Europe and Africa. You can purchase and download his ebook at www.anactualbookonradiopromotions.com and can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org